Michigan's Jordan Kovacs: Michigan State 'played last year how we want to play'
ANN ARBOR -- Michigan often calls Michigan State the most physical opponent on its football schedule.
And during a 28-14 loss to the Spartans last season, the Wolverines admitted to being beaten physically in just about every category.
MSU pushed around the Michigan offense all afternoon, and ran over, through and around the Wolverine defense for the rest of the day.
Quite literally, the Spartans added injury to insult.
"They played last year how we want to play," Michigan senior captain Jordan Kovacs said Monday. "We want to be able to run the ball downhill, we want to control the game with our offense and keep the defense off the field.
"We want to eat up clock, control the tempo of the game with our running game. They did a nice job of that last year, and we look to improve on that."
Michigan State's defensive harassing of Wolverine quarterback Denard Robinson last season has been well documented.
The Spartans racked up seven sacks, 10 tackles for a loss, and eventually knocked the dynamic Wolverine quarterback out of the game in the fourth quarter -- and no, according to Robinson, none of it was dirty.
It was football.
Offensively, the Spartans were able to keep drives alive and keep Michigan at an arm's distance with their muscle -- rushing for 213 yards
Afterward, Michigan coach Brady Hoke said his team needed to "feel this one" for a while.
One year later, the Wolverines say they have.
"Coach tells us every day, you can't be out-toughened," Michigan senior defensive tackle Will Campbell said. "This is Michigan, that's what we preach on, that's what we grind on every week -- to be the tougher opponent."
Last season, Kovacs had no trouble summing up the afternoon's theme.
"They pounded us," he said. "Ate us up."
This time around, Michigan insists its learned its lesson.
In this rivalry, the team with the strongest punch almost always wins.
There's basically no other way to cut it.
"This game is always in my recollection been a very physical, feisty football game," Hoke said. "There’s a lot of pride in both universities and programs, guys who are out there representing. Our guys know their guys, their guys know our guys – a vast majority -- so it’s always a physical game.
"We’ll go back to playing a physical football team, which this is going to be, it’s just a whole other way of playing football.”